Casper Virkkula: PhD Dissertation Defence

  • Date:
  • Location: Engelska parken Geijersalen
  • Organiser: Department of Literature
  • Contact person: Paula Henrikson
  • Disputation

Casper Virkkula defends his PhD dissertation Minnets fosterland. Tid och teknik hos Atterbom, Geijer och Stagnelius. Dr Peter Henning, Umeå University, will serve as the external examiner. The event will be in Swedish.


This dissertation examines the form and role of Romantic memory as it pertains to the concepts of time and technics in the works of the Swedish Romanticist authors Per Daniel Amadeus Atterbom (1790–1855), Erik Gustaf Geijer (1783–1847), and Erik Johan Stagnelius (1793–1823). The study examines how these authors use and reshape memories in an abstract sense – memories of historical events, mythological motifs, and metaphysical ideas – through the lens of cultural memory. Furthermore, the dissertation analyses these memories using the concept of technics as it is understood in the philosophy of Bernard Stiegler and Martin Heidegger. Technics in this context denotes the way in which the lived experience of the world, of being itself, is structured and ordered within a system of comprehensibility and conceivability. 

The dissertation traces the difficulty the authors often explicitly struggled with, namely, to return to the memory of the soul’s pre-existence in eternity from a point in time. This aporia is then read as a desire to break free from the bonds of technics via technical means. Repeatedly, the authors set out to reach what has been lost, and to re-present (make-present-again) it via poetical imagery gathered from a wide range of historical memories and mythologies, yet time and time again they find themselves dissatisfied with the result. It is the conclusion of this study that, rather than through the literary means expressly chosen for the purpose, Atterbom, Geijer and Stagnelius manage to challenge the absoluteness of technics by self-consciously deconstructing their own use of memories and myths. When they illuminate the impossibility of the undertaken task, to express the inexpressible, and draw our attention to their works as fiction, they open up a new poetical space for creativity, and establish an intense, ecstatic now that gathers all temporalities, and potentially even eternity, within it.